The Columbia County Board of Education will ask the public to help decide on a new school calendar.
Three options have been posted on the school system's Web site, www.ccboe.net.
With the first option, school would start Aug. 3 with a four-day fall break (one being a teacher workday) and a two-week Christmas holiday. School Superintendent Tommy Price has recommended this option to the board, and it was favored by school officials.
With the second option, school would start Aug. 4 with a three-day fall break (including the one teacher workday) and a two-week Christmas holiday.
The third option would have school starting Aug. 5 and would reduce the fall break to two days (one being a teacher workday.) It also would include two weeks for Christmas.
Many of the board members have expressed concerns about starting the school year earlier.
"I'm not for starting on Aug. 3," said board Chairman Wayne Bridges. "The perception is we are starting earlier and earlier, and there is not going to be a lot of support for that."
Of the 180 school systems in the state, 149 started school between Aug. 1 and Aug. 15. Six started school after Aug. 15 and only one after Sept. 1, according to data posted on the Georgia Department of Education's Web site.
This year, Columbia County schools started Aug. 6. This is the first year a new school calendar, including fall and winter breaks, has been tried. Coupled with Oct. 17, a staff development day that also is a student holiday, the fall break Oct. 20-22 gave pupils a full six days away from the classroom. The new mid-winter break stretches from Feb. 13-16.
Last year, the school year ended May 16. But the extra holidays this year have pushed the 180-day school year to May 21. The school year is split into two halves, with the first semester ending before the Christmas holidays begin.
The school system just completed another parent survey, the results of which were presented recently to the school board at its meeting. Of the 855 responding, 90 percent said they favored a fall break, and 84 percent said they favored a winter break.
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